Five Things You Can Do To Overcome Burnout.
Burnout is something that I talk about a lot. Why? Because, since 2020, we’re seeing more and more cases of burnout and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Just last year a study showed that 46% of workers in the UK are close to burnout. In the US, it’s 59%.
To put it into perspective, there is a 260% increase in cases of burnout now compared to 2016.
And whilst it’s better, especially in the long-run, to prevent burnout (I’ve written a few blogs on that if you want to check them out), what if you’re already there? What if you are at burnout stage?
I think it’s important to take a dual stance on this; what individuals can do and what employers can do. In this blog, we’re going to look at what individuals can personally do to overcome burnout, but I do have another blog brewing on what employers can do too!
But for now, let’s dive right in.
1. Prioritise sleep and rest
Sleep is not a ‘nice to have’, it’s an absolute must when you’re overcoming burnout. Burnout takes a massive toll on your body, mind and emotions. It will make you feel exhausted and depleted, making it difficult to complete tasks, concentrate, or make decisions. Sleep is a massive component in the healing process as it supports the body to rest, restore, and recharge.
Firstly, it directly helps to reduce stress. Getting enough sleep helps reduce stress levels by providing the body with the rest it needs to cope with the challenges of the day. When you’re stressed, your body produces cortisol, a hormone that is important in the sleep/wake cycle and it helps you to feel alert when you wake up. However, in times of prolonged stress, cortisol can change the way we sleep, leaving you feeling wired before you go to sleep and feeling unrefreshed when you wake up. Getting enough sleep (7-9 hours is what the latest research is telling us) can reduce cortisol levels, which in turn helps us to manage stress more effectively.
Secondly, getting enough sleep can improve your quality of life as you navigate burnout. It can help you feel more energised and motivated, making it easier for you to engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, which are a huge part of overcoming burnout in themselves.
2. Meet yourself where you’re at.
Burnout is one of those syndromes that can be truly humbling. It can feel like one moment you’re on top of the world and then the next, just contemplating getting out of bed can be overwhelming.
And this is exactly why we have to meet ourselves where we’re currently at, and not where we think we should be. That means that we need to be realistic about our situation. This, in itself, can help overcome burnout in a number of ways. Firstly, it can help us to manage expectations. It is important to be honest with yourself about what you can realistically achieve in a given time frame and set achievable goals. This helps to avoid the pressure to overextend yourself and take on more than you can handle at the moment. This could be related to work, your business, or your home life. And because stress and burnout don’t discriminate, they can impact all aspects of your life. If you’re used to working 10 hours a day and are currently struggling to achieve 2, then that’s where you’re at right now. You can’t rush overcoming burnout, unfortunately.
Secondly, I would encourage you to engage in self-care. A lot of my clients (and myself included) burnt out simply because they didn’t take the time to look after themselves. Being realistic with where you're at means recognising your limits and taking steps to prioritise your own self-care. This can include things like taking regular breaks, delegating tasks, or seeking support when you need it. Acknowledging your needs and taking care of yourself, will help you overcome burnout and also to prevent potential future burnouts.
Lastly, meeting ourselves where we are at creates a bi-product of ‘perfectionism reduction’. Speaking from experience, perfectionism is an absolute killer at any time, but especially when it comes to overcoming burnout. Often, burnout is the result of perfectionism. Feeling the need to constantly strive for perfection and being unable to tolerate anything less can take its toll. Being realistic with where you're at can help combat this by allowing you to accept imperfection and mistakes are simply part of the learning process. And help you to accept you’re a human. And humans need rest. And that’s okay!
3. Healthy Boundaries.
Creating healthy boundaries is incredibly important, not only to help overcome burnout but also in preventing it from happening again.
A lot of the people I have worked with really struggle with setting healthy boundaries, both in terms of other people but also self-boundaries too. But this is a vital step in overcoming (and preventing) burnout. So how can we start to create healthy boundaries?
Firstly, don’t overcommit! When you have healthy boundaries, you know your limits and what you can realistically take on. Yes, it’s great to push past limits occasionally, but if you’re sacrificing your own physical, mental and emotional well-being, it’s just not worth it in the long run.
Secondly, prioritse that self-care! Prioritising and taking the time to rest, recharge, and do the things that bring you joy is absolutely essential for staring down burnout. It helps you to manage stress and maintain your overall well-being after all.
Thirdly, when we have healthy boundaries, we are able to create a better balance between work and personal life, meaning that we are less likely to let work bleed into our personal time.
And lastly, healthy boundaries help us to set clear expectations with others about what we are willing and able to do. This means that we are less likely to be taken advantage of, which can lead to us feeling resentful.
4. Healthy habits.
Healthy habits are incredibly effective in helping to overcome burnout because they promote physical, mental and emotional well-being, which is essential in burnout recovery.
Burnout will leave you feeling physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. Healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, and engaging in regular exercise can help to restore energy levels,and build resilience, giving you the helping hand you need to recover from burnout. By taking care of your physical and emotional well-being, you can develop the resilience you need to overcome burnout and prevent it from happening in the future.
Healthy habits can also help reduce stress, which is the precursor to burnout, as well as enhancing your mood. Burnout can often lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and hopelessness so developing healthy habits to help to overcome these, as well as reducing stress, is vital to overcoming burnout. Whether it’s going for a gentle walk, stretching, yoga, reading, doing breathing exercises, spending time in nature, engaging in hobbies, or spending time with loved ones. All of these pursuits can help to reduce stress, improve your mood and provide a sense of fulfillment and joy.
Developing healthy habits can also help to increase your self-awareness, helping you to recognise your needs, but also your limitations. This can help with establishing boundaries (which we have just discussed).
5. Develop stress management techniques.
Okay, stress is the precursor to burnout. Burnout is physical, mental and emotional exhaustion from prolonged stress. This is exactly why you need to build up your toolkit to help you overcome or to manage stress.
There are several stress management tools that you might find useful to help you reduce stress and to relax. Here are some of the most common ones:
Deep breathing exercises can help calm the mind and body. A good practice is to inhale deeply through your nose for five seconds, hold that breath and then exhale slowly through your mouth for 10 seconds. This will help you get from ‘fight or flight’ to ‘rest and digest’.
Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment and observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment. You can practice this everyday by simply tapping into your senses. Take five minutes out and pay attention fully to what you can hear, see, feel, smell and taste. This is a great way to bring into the present moment.
Regular exercise can help reduce stress by releasing endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Even a short walk or stretching can help you feel more relaxed.
Getting enough sleep is important for managing stress. Create a consistent sleep routine and create a sleep-conducive environment by keeping your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark. Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
Spending time with friends and family can help reduce stress and improve your mood. You can also join a support group or talk to a counsellor or therapist.
Engaging in hobbies or activities you enjoy can help reduce stress by providing a sense of fulfillment and pleasure.
It’s crucial that we’re all able to recognise the signs of burnout and to take action as soon as possible. Remember, overcoming burnout is a process that requires patience and self-compassion but with these tools, I am sure that you can move towards recovery and prevent future burnouts.
And remember, if you can only do one thing, do that. Because even one thing will make a difference. Burying our heads in the sand won’t make burnout go away and it’s vital to take an active approach to help ourselves manage our stress to overcome and prevent burnout.
Burnout remains a huge issue and not just one that impacts the workplace. Overcoming burnout requires a dual approach, with individuals and employers taking responsibility for finding solutions.
If you’re not sure if you’re burnt out, head over to our Your Burnout Score.
Or if you’re struggling with burnout and want some support, reach out to us for a chilled-out chat about what you (or your company) can do to help you on the road to recovery.
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